Afghanistan has recalled its ambassador from Pakistan over reported remarks by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan that suggested Kabul should set up an interim government, calling the comments "irresponsible."
Khan told Pakistani journalists on Monday that forming an interim Afghan government would smooth peace talks between US and Taliban officials since the militant group refuses to speak to the current government, according to comments published in The Express Tribune.
“The Afghan government was a hurdle in (the) peace process that was insisting that Taliban should talk to it,” Khan was quoted as saying.
He also said he had cancelled a scheduled meeting with Taliban leaders because of objections by the Afghan government.
Afghanistan summoned Pakistan's deputy ambassador to discuss the "irresponsible" remarks by Khan, foreign affairs ministry spokesman Sibghatullah Ahmadi said in a series of tweets on Tuesday.
The Afghan government deemed Khan's statements as "an obvious example of Pakistan's interventional policy and disrespect to the national sovereignty and determination of the people of Afghanistan," Ahmadi said.
Yesterday, Pakistani foreign ministry issued a statement saying that Khan's comments, reported in various forms by Pakistani media outlets and picked up in Afghanistan, had been taken out of context and misinterpreted.
The Afghanistan-Pakistan row marks the third time in just over a month that Kabul demanded an explanation from Islamabad over comments related to peace talks, illustrating the flaring tensions between the two neighbours at a sensitive time.
Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah did not appear to be appeased by Pakistan's clarifying statement. "The remarks about Afghanistan's future ... that were expressed by Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan, are not acceptable for any Afghan citizen," he said.